BEMIDJI -- Local artists, authors, poets, musicians, photographers and actors are being challenged to create something that can be shared in an exhibit when the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Mary Knox-Johnson, president of the Gallery North board of directors, came up with the idea.

“It just popped into my head,” she said. “I thought we needed something to get people to concentrate on the positive. Bemidji is a fine arts mecca. So it’s up to us in Bemidji to spur people to creativity.”

Gallery North and the Northern Artist Association are sponsoring the effort.

“The challenge is to develop a work of art, poetry, music, writing, photography, etc. etc. etc. around the theme ‘Reflections’ that captures the spirit of these unknown times,” Knox-Johnson wrote in a news release. “The piece should be positive in nature and produced during this time of self-quarantine. Sometime after the world is back to ‘normal,’ the Gallery and Northern Artist Association will host an exhibition of this work. Any artist of any age may submit one piece.”

All questions should be directed to Knox-Johnson at

The pandemic has hit the arts community hard, shutting down events and facilities. Knox-Johnson is the director of Bemidji Community Theater’s production of “Treasure Island,” which was scheduled to open a two-weekend run on March 20. It is tentatively rescheduled to open May 1.

“We don’t know when it’s actually going to see the light of day,” said Knox-Johnson, who also is a weaver and has written three children’s books.

She also has dabbled in poetry, writing the following as an entry into the challenge:

In this time of uncertainty

Let our challenge be

To find the inner spirit

And create a piece of me.

Not any piece will do

For negativity abounds.

So gild your thoughts with positivity

To make the earth resound

With thoughts of peacefulness and you.

Find the parts that be

The source of all humanity

And bring smiles to those who see!

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